Ruston PD “short-handed”, vacations curtailed

The Ruston Police Department (RPD) is significantly understaffed, so much so that vacations scheduled after July 17 must be approved on a case-by-case basis, according to a memo sent to RPD officers July 5.

From the document sent by Deputy Chief Gerald Jenkins:

Due to recent manpower issues, all vacation requests scheduled to begin after July 17, 2016, will be reviewed and approved/denied on a case by case basis, regardless of the date the request was submitted.

See here the memo.

Another city official told Lincoln Parish News Online (LPNO) that, “they are short-handed.”

Sources have told LPNO that several officers have gone to work for other area sheriff’s offices that pay more.

Last year, the RPD budget was cut about $20 thousand, while the city’s executive department enjoyed a $300 thousand boost.

2015 budget summary
2016 budget summary

Budget planning for fiscal year 2017 is underway now, sources say. The new budget is customarily adopted at the September meeting, and goes into effect October 1.

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14 Responses to “Ruston PD “short-handed”, vacations curtailed”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    It’s a ploy to fill their coffers. It’s what statists do.

  2. rememberthattime Says:

    Not a ploy. Seriously short-handed. Don’t know that I agree whole-heartedly that officers are leaving for more money, although that does make it easier to cut ties. In the last 10 years, approximately 45 officers have left the PD. Only a handful of those were retirements.

  3. rememberthattime Says:

    FYI, $20,000 doesn’t cover the beginning salary of one rookie police officer, so that budget cut did not affect the City’s ability to hire more officers. However, if that money had been used to increase each officers’ pay, each officer would have received less than a 0.025% increase. That wouldn’t have covered cost of living or insurance increases.

  4. Bob Sherunkel Says:

    As with any other job, there is a division of labor. After you have been there a while, you move up, perhaps to a desk.
    The question is, where is the manpower shortfall? Is it patrolmen?

    The limited exposure I have to RPD is that very little advancement takes place. Thats partly good because it keeps good patrolmen as patrolmen but it is also bad because everyone wants to advance in a career or they must leave for some opportunity.

    We have seen exponential growth in the budget of LPSO but hear very little about RPD.

    Think for a moment about this proposal, but let me first set it up.
    If you are on the corner of Alabama and Tech Drive, there are at least four entities that can interact with you. RPD, LPSO, LSP, LATech. Seems somewhat redundant.
    Suppose the LPSO absorbed the RPD and we essential disband city policing. It would by law, fall under the responsibility of the parish to police Ruston.
    It would eliminate an entire management level which would of course, be mostly absorbed by LPSO. I cannot imagine the policing coverage would suffer but it would actually eliminate a layer of government!

  5. Bob Sherunkel Says:

    There are several examples.
    Most of them are small towns that just realized they didn’t have the budget. The truth is, we don’t have the budget without punitive taxation (already in place) This would allow for greater spending elsewhere or (won’t ever happen) a reduction of tax rates.

  6. Mr. E Says:

    The problem with Bob Sherunkel’s plan to have the LPSO absorb the RPD is the same problem we’ve always had in Lincoln Parish – the problem of devoting too many parish resources to populous Ruston while ignoring the needs rural residents. Ruston always gets an outsized voice in matters such as tax elections that rural residents can’t compete against while sucking up the majority of resources to leave rural residents sucking hind tit.

    Back in the day, forward thinking members of the Police Jury set up a plan to repave a certain amount of rural roads each year to ensure maintenance didn’t fall behind. This was a great plan that saw Lincoln Parish have roads in far superior shape than state roads such as Hwy 151. Meanwhile, Ruston’s leaders prevented the construction of a bypass around the city which would have diverted semi trucks away from downtown. This was done to force traffic through the city to prevent people from bypassing downtown shops, but Walmart accelerated downtown’s demise and Ruston is clogged with big trucks and no downtown businesses. City roads are worn out, but the taxes to upgrade them are spread across the parish to pay for the nearsightedness of their leaders.

    Ruston residents get tired of city living and move out to the rural areas of the parish only to start whining about wanting city services that ends up costing rural residents for things they never wanted nor needed, like that infamous boondoggle rural fire protection.

    Now, the LPSO pretty much stays in Ruston anyway, but Sherunkel wishes to hand them the excuse that Ruston is now their primary patrol zone because of their concentration of the parish population. Appearances by LPSO deputies in my part of the parish are so rare now that I still get ready to offer directions should they stop.

    Ruston ought to have to fend for itself and pay for the services they demand without burdening the rural residents of the parish. There should be a special property tax only for Ruston city residents to pay for these services because sales taxes are paid by the rural residents who shop in Ruston. And, Ruston should not be allowed to arbitrarily expand their city limits to take in more of the parish for tax purposes.

    • Bob Sherunkel Says:

      Mr. E!
      100% agree with you until you get to the last paragraph.
      I agree that the dollars appear to be spent at a much higher rate within the cities of the parish, primarily (I believe) because there are more votes concentrated inside the cities.
      The main thing I would express any disagreement with would be any additional taxes placed on the city residents. Yes, the parish resident who buys in the city must pay the city tax but it is incorrect that that same resident gains no benefit. He did, afterall, come to the city where the products he desires are for sale. That alone is a benefit. You could, as I do, make the vast majority of my mundane purchases from online vendors. Almost every item, from toilet paper to groceries can be purchased online and most of that without ANY taxes applied.
      (My son recently made a local store purchase in a large midwestern metro area where he lives and had it shipped to me here. I then turned it immediately back around and shipped it to him. He saved 10% tax by doing so and the cost of shipping to me and back to him was less than 0.02%)

      As to a Ruston bypass, that is at best a perceived inconvenience. I mean really – it takes 10 minutes to go from north to south anytime except during a parade.

      • Mr. E Says:

        I appreciate you agreeing with my comments. Perhaps I failed to make my point clearly in that last paragraph, so let me try again.

        Parish residents already pay sales taxes on their Ruston purchases, so they are already paying for the benefits they derive from being able to shop in Ruston. I never called for an elimination of Ruston sales taxes, just a moratorium on using sales taxes to pay for additional city services.

        Ruston likes to imagine itself an important city, but big city dreams cost big city money, and Ruston also likes to spread the costs of their big city dreams across the parish to rural residents who don’t share that dream. (If we did, then we’d probably be living in Ruston, but we’re not and we don’t.) My point is that Ruston residents should bear the costs of these big city dreams with taxes levied exclusively on them.

        I presume you didn’t object to the last sentence of that paragraph expressing the opinion that Ruston shouldn’t be allowed to arbitrarily expand its city limits to take in more of the parish for tax purposes.

        As to the bypass, it wasn’t intended to be so much about inconvenience as it was having numerous big trucks lumbering through the middle of town unnecessarily wearing out city streets with ruts. By the time the situation of traffic congestion becomes intolerable, it is far too late to do anything about it and municipalities find themselves in a never ending game of catch up. By the time the new road infrastructure is complete, the traffic has grown even worse. Probably not a big problem for Ruston, but not building the bypass has definitely hindered Ruston’s growth over the long term. Of course, there are a lot of people in Ruston who have no desire to see large economic expansion in Ruston.

        Drivers of these big trucks have no desire and no opportunity to stop in the middle of Ruston, and neither they nor the rest of us should be burdened by their lumbering through the middle of town. A bypass would have addressed this situation, allowed Ruston to expand, and preemptively addressed future traffic congestion, but Ruston’s leaders back in the day were small time thinkers who lacked the vision to launch such a project. So, Ruston is just another small municipality desperately clinging to the local college to give it relevance in the world. Without LA Tech, there would be no Ruston.

  7. Bob Sherunkel Says:

    Mr E

    Spot on explanation.
    I still contend that “no new taxes” is a good starting point. Shop online and avoid them altogether. Probably not the most civic minded thing to say but Wal Mart shopping sends money out of town anyways. To paraphrase the World’s Most Interesting Man, When I Shop Local, I only shop local.

    The bypass simply doesn’t work in towns the size of Ruston. Maybe you could more accurately describe what you are thinking as a Truck Route.

    • Mr. E Says:

      Bob, it appears we’re both in violent agreement here. I shop online as much as possible, but not so much to avoid sales taxes. Rather, the convenience of shopping from home and getting exactly what I want is far more alluring than saving a pittance on sales taxes.

      Yes, no new taxes is a great starting point, and I would like to see that starting point lead to far fewer taxes with collected tax revenue spent much more efficiently.

      I have to disagree with you on the bypass. Ruston exists because it sits at the crossing of two major road arteries: I-20 and Hwy 167. Originally, it was the intersection of the railroad and Hwy 167, but I digress. I-20 is a controlled access artery which takes care of traffic flow. Hwy 167 is a different situation.

      You say a bypass on Hwy 167 doesn’t work for towns the size of Ruston, but Jonesboro has a bypass which has drastically improved traffic flow by allowing travelers with no desire to stop in town or navigate narrow streets with lower speed limits and frequent lights to be on their way without the hassle of traffic through town. This also allows the people who need to be downtown to get around without having to deal with all the traffic just wanting to pass through.

      The history of the bypass situation was that it was proposed back in the late 1960s, but Ruston leaders and businesses shot it down because they wanted traffic to flow through town under the impression that channeling traffic through town would support businesses with folks impulsively stopping at stores. They also feared traffic would move out to the bypass and leave downtown deserted, a feat which Walmart accomplished anyway and the reason I mentioned Walmart. That was flawed thinking that has never worked, and the opportunity to construct a bypass on Hwy 167 vanished. Hence we are left negotiating our way through Ruston with big trucks hauling logs, chicken parts, wood chips, and other assorted fun items.

      The other point is that a bypass would have allowed Ruston to grow much larger than it is now, meaning that we wouldn’t now be taking about a bypass working for “towns the size of Ruston” because Ruston would be bigger.

      Tying the two together, wise and judicious use of tax revenue by visionary leaders to create the proper infrastructure allows economic growth which benefits the taxpayers whose wealth is being diverted to the public good by the politicians.

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